By Clarence Douglas Cooper
MONROVIA: Over the last 48 hours, news about French aviation giant, Air France, decisively quitting flight to Liberia has spread like a wildfire through the local media and rumor-mongering with much of the narratives regarding the imminent departure of the French Carrier visibly shrouded in “lies, disinformation, misrepresentation and brazen falsehood.”
But contrary to the many unsubstantiated reports being spread mainly by naysayers that Air France is pulling out of Liberia, with the last flight scheduled to and from Liberia tentatively set at 28, March, 2022, primarily because the Roberts International Airport (RIA) is being poorly managed and falls short of meeting global aviation standards, a thorough investigation conducted by this paper has established the prime reasons why Air France plans to discontinue flying to Liberia anytime soon.
Here are the facts below:
The discontinuation of flight to Liberia by Air France is entirely a policy position by the Government of France which is principally in consonance with its geopolitical determination and disposition relative to its unfavorable diplomatic ties with the West African State of Mali.
Our investigation established that the cardinal reasons for the imminent departure of the French Carrier have absolutely nothing to do with alleged poor management of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) or any purported bad services and facilities as it is being insinuated by naysayers for pecuniary and other self-serving gains.
These cynics also postulate that the problems border on RIA’s power outages and runway faults, something which aviation experts believe aren’t akin or unique to the RIA.
Our comprehensive investigation further established that before embarking on its Monrovia (ROB) route, Air France’s prime route closer to Liberia was the West African State of Mali which served as its regional transit hub—essentially to serve the basic needs of the French peacekeeping troops deployed there to assist the troubled West African nation effectively combat and decimate well-armed and fearsome Jihadists or terrorist movements which have infiltrated and occupied parts of the country for several years now.
Because of its 2,400 troops deployed in Mali, the French government, as a matter of policy, had to prioritize Mali, Bamako, as a major and permanent route to ensure that French citizens, institutions, and companies smoothly and constantly travel to Mali to essentially transact with the peacekeeping troops on the ground.
So, principally, it was because of the presence of France and other foreign peacekeeping troops under the zeitgeist of the United Nations (U.N.) Peace-keeping Mission in Mali, Air France flew to Mali almost daily.
This is how and why the Bamako route was set into motion for Air France which is a national carrier, our investigation further established.
Relations Between France and Mali Gets Eroded:
In December 2021, diplomatic relations between France and Mali badly deteriorated after two military coup d’états, coupled with the new military junta’s demonstrated reluctance to agree to an immediate transition to civilian rule and to pave the way for democratic governance in that country.
The French ambassador to Mali, a former French Colony, was subsequently expelled, a move which was greeted with public celebrations in Bamako.
Moreover, it was established that the presence of scores of experienced private mercenaries of Wagner Group, widely believed to be of Russian origin, also increased tension, with the European Union (EU), accusing Mali’s well-armed military junta of using them to shore up their military firepower.
“Multiple obstructions” by the ruling junta meant conditions were no longer in place to operate in Mali, France, and its African and European allies said in a position statement.
Considering the sour apparent twist in diplomatic ties with the Military Junta, French President, Emmanuel Macron, quickly announced that he was withdrawing French troops from Mali with immediate effect.
The French would pull out after nearly a decade of active combat against terrorists in the Sahel region.
Since the pronouncement of President Macron last December 2021, the withdrawal has been in full effect and French troops are nearly out of Mali which potentially brings to an end all French dealings with Mali including its national carrier, Air France, flying there.
Accordingly, on 11, January, 2022, Air France formally announced on its website the cancellation of all flights to Mali as of January 2002 as part of sanctions placed on Bamako by the French government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The statement herein referenced can be read here: (https://airlinergs.com/air-france-suspends-flights-to-sanctions-hit-mali/
Air France Pulling Out Of Liberia:
As far as our investigation established, Air France flew to Liberia on a conditional arrangement that originated from an official appeal made by the Liberian government to the French government.
Before embarking on its flight route to Liberia, Air France flew directly to Mali with no connecting route to Liberia.
So, with flight discontinued to Mali, the arrangement that led to Air France flying to Monrovia has been effectively fractured, meaning the aviation giant can no longer continue flight to Liberia—on an arrangement that is non-existent.
Again, Air France flew to Liberia on a conditional basis that originated from an official appeal by the government of Liberia to the French government to allow the French Carrier to connect Liberia to its Malian hub. This means Liberia was a secondary route, not a primary route as was Bamako, Mali.
Additionally, credible aviation sources have informed this investigation that the passenger flow to Liberia is very low and cannot cover the highly capital-intensive operational cost of Air France flying to Monrovia— meaning Air France would risk a terrible financial loss flying to Liberia under the pertaining circumstance of very low passenger’s flow, and of course, the indisputable fact that no business wishes to operate at a huge loss.
Meanwhile, the Management of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA-RIA), in a brief statement issued during the week to clarify what he calls calculated lies, misinformation, and disinformation regarding the state of the Airport and news of Air France to shortly discontinue flight to Liberia, confirmed this independent investigation.
Read the full statement of the LAA-RIA below:
“The Management of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA-RIA) attention has been drawn to March 9, 2022, FrontPage Africa Publication stating, in summary, the withdrawal of Air France from landing and picking up from its Airport in which the paper insinuated such withdrawal due to poor lighting and management system.
The LAA through its management will do absolutely nothing to stall gains made by this Government. For clarity, Air France has to scale down its seven days per week schedule to three days per week due to the increase in diplomatic hostilities and the political differences between Paris and Bamako, and with French troops pulling out of Mali.
On January 11, Air France announced the cancellation of all flights to Mali as of January as part of sanctions placed on Mali by the French Government. (https://airlinergs.com/air-france-suspends-flights-to-sanctions-hit-mali/ )
Mali has been the regional transit hub for Air France’s passengers base and as such, it did not see it economically prudent to continue daily flights to Liberia with limited numbers of passengers.
The Liberia Airport Authority assures Liberians and the general public that it remains committed to putting in place every necessary measure(s) that will make Liberia attractive for Aviation investment”.